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POST GAME: Falcons 4, Penguins 2

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

 

SPRINGFIELD FALCONS (3-0-0) 4, WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON PENGUINS (0-2-0) 2
MassMutual Center | Springfield, Mass.
Attendance: 2,555


THE RUNDOWN
Not to say that the first two games of the season were "easy" for the Springfield Falcons, but sooner than later, they were going to face some serious adversity during a hockey game.

They got their most stubborn challenge of the young season tonight from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, but Brad Larsen's club was more than equal to the task in rallying for the win. Springfield bounced back from a pair of third-period goals by the Penguins and scored two goals of its own in the closing minutes to secure a 4-2 win at the MassMutual Center.

In the process, the Falcons improved to 3-0-0 for the first time in the franchise's 19-year history, and solidifed their spot atop the American Hockey League's Northeast Division.

But it was anything but routine to get to that point.

The Baby Pens were in control for the opening minutes of the hockey game, but then embarked on a barrage of penalties that eliminated anything they had established. Consecutive penalties to Joey Mormina and Warren Peters put the Penguins down two men, and Springfield wasted little time cashing in on the power play.

Jonathan Audy-Marchessault continued his torrid scoring pace just seconds later, ripping a one-timer from the left point that beat Jeff Zatkoff near-side for a 1-0 Springfield lead only eight ticks into the two-man advantage. David Savard set him up from the right point, and captain Ryan Craig was a sturdy screen at the front of the cage.

John Moore - playing in his 150th AHL game tonight - gave the Falcons a 2-0 advantage late in the first period on what looked like a harmless wrist shot. With Matt Calvert's line on the ice, Moore sent the puck toward Zatkoff and it beat him clean, leaving the Penguins goaltender a bit perplexed as he fished the puck out of the net.

After a rather docile second period, the third period was full of fireworks.

Springfield ran into penalty trouble of its own and gave the Penguins plenty of opportunities to get back in the game. A hooking penalty to Sean Collins set up Joe Morrow's first goal of the year to make it a 2-1 margin, and less than two minutes later, Phillippe Dupuis scored to tie the game at 8:41.

The Falcons were quiet, but not for much longer.

A brutal turnover by the Penguins inside their zone allowed Audy-Marchessault to spring free and find Cam Atkinson at the far post, and Atkinson slammed it in behind Zatkoff for a 3-2 lead. Ryan Johansen applied the insurance marker at 16:02, taking a pass from Atkinson on a 3-on-1 rush and burying his second goal in as many games.


PIVOTAL MOMENT
Had the Penguins come away with the victory tonight, the turning point could have easily been the two quick power-play goals to even the score in the third period. But as they've done more than once this season, the Falcons had a response. Atkinson's goal took the wind out of the Penguins and re-energized the MassMutual Center crowd, helping Springfield breathe a little easier down the stretch.


THREE STARS
1. Cam Atkinson (SPR) -- one goal, one assist
2. Jonathan Audy-Marchessault (SPR) -- one goal, one assist
3. Curtis McElhinney (SPR) -- 29 saves


UP NEXT
vs. Providence Bruins
Saturday, 7 p.m.
MassMutual Center | Springfield, Mass.
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